Lorry worry: ‘Ottery’s roads cannot cope’

The overturned lorry on Exeter Road.

The overturned lorry on Exeter Road. - Credit: Archant

Accidents spark new round of concerns

Ottery’s roads cannot cope with ever-increasing volumes of heavy goods traffic.

That was the stark message from concerned residents, campaigners and councillors this week.

It was sparked in the wake of incidents last week where two lorries were involved in accidents around the town in the space of just 24 hours – one forcing Exeter Road to be closed while the truck was recovered.

Members of the community have spoken of their increasing concern over the sheer number of large vehicles using the roads that are deemed unsuitable – with one resident saying ‘it will take a fatal injury before something is done’.

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But highways bosses say there is no easy fix and - even if weight restrictions were imposed - lorries that need to make deliveries have a right to drive through.

Town councillor Geoff Pratt raised the issue last year when he called for a clampdown on heavy vehicles causing excessive congestion. He this week told the Herald that it is still an issue and is something that has been raised by many residents as well - with the problem exacerbated by new housing developments generating more traffic.

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Councillor Pratt said he is working to communicate with building site managers and direct the bulk of the traffic towards the main roads and away from the narrow country lanes in order to make it as safe as possible.

Alfington resident Vicky Johns said she feels Ottery is becoming larger ‘without any thought being made to the infrastructure’.

“We have huge lorries coming through all of the time and the roads are incapable of dealing with them,” she said. “The amount of times that vehicles have tried to squeeze through, two-a-breast, causing a huge obstruction is uncountable. “However, I honestly think that, until someone is actually fatally injured, nothing will ever be done about it. It’s such a shame as we truly live in a beautiful area.”

Monica Mortimer, of Straitgate Action Group, which was set up to protest against a proposed 100-acre quarry on Ottery’s outskirts, said the recent incidents prove that none of the roads around the town are built for large volumes of lorries.

She said the increased traffic generated by Straitgate Quarry would only serve to exacerbate current problems.

District and town councillor Roger Giles agreed, adding: “If lorries are running off the road on less trafficked routes, how much greater will the danger be on Ottery’s busiest road?”

Devon County Council highways boss Cllr Stuart Hughes said: “If we put a weight restriction on the road, then lorries still have a right to drive through it if they are loading or unloading, so there is no great fix.” He added that it is a long process to try to ban lorries from roads completely and said drivers need to drive with care and take notice of their surroundings.

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